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Teach the Children Well

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

Matthew 19:13-15 (New Living Translation)

It’s hard to imagine that summer has slipped away once again, yet the start of another school year adds its own season of excitement! Kids get to learn, and so do the parents as their children bring home new books, new concepts, and new activities! Families will be brought together at various events too – from Open House to Fall Festivals to high school football games.

Frankly, I love this time of year! Children are so excited, and their energy level alone makes a Starbucks Venti Americano obsolete! Developmentally, they are wired to absorb information – and, despite how it appears at times, they’ll retain these facts for years to come. Perhaps that’s why Jesus stopped His disciples in their tracks when they tried to turn away the children who’d been brought to see Him.

And notice WHO it was that brought the boys and girls to the Messiah: the parents! Those mothers and fathers knew where the most excellent source of learning could be found, and they weren’t going to miss an opportunity for their children to meet the Christ. There are two important lessons we can take away from this section of Scripture too:

  1. Learning about the Lord is the most essential educational experience for our children.
  2. Parents are the ones who must take the lead in this faith-building exercise.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the 3 R’s aren’t important – they most

definitely are! But the fourth essential “R” won’t be taught in many schools. That is the RELATIONSHIP with Jesus that leads to salvation.

Years ago I had a lively debate with a relative who felt his children should simply figure out faith on their own. He didn’t want to force anything on them, and he suggested that this “free choice” approach aligned better with modern-day thinking.

Well, he was right about the last part. The “whatever will be, will be” approach is very post-modern – but it is also totally out of line with God’s time-tested guidelines about how to raise children to know Him (we’ll have much more on this when our book Straight Lines for Parents is published in 2012). Yet when I asked him if he’d let them learn reading, writing, and arithmetic in the same manner, he looked at me as if I’d lost my mind and responded, “Of course not!”

“Well,” I replied, “then why would you leave knowing the Lord up to chance? Learning on earth lasts for a short while, but our children’s souls will go on for eternity!”

That discussion continued for several hours, and our family member finally agreed that perhaps a more intentional approach to faith might be better.

Intentionally is the way all teaching must be done! We must teach our children – and teach them well. We can’t leave it up to others – not teachers, Sunday School leaders, youth pastors, or mentors. The parents in Jesus’ day got it right – and they were rewarded with the Lord’s approval and His special blessing for their children!

No matter where you are on life’s journey, you can play a part in this “Back-to-School” paradigm. Keep pointing the kids in your life to the Lord. Live in such a way that they can’t help but see where you’ve put your trust for salvation – and hopefully they’ll want to follow in your faithful footsteps!

We’re so blessed to be part of your lives for another awesome season!

Thought of the Month

Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7